Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University

ENGL 100 - Expository Writing (Manhattan)

What Are Keywords?

When you use Google to find information, you type in words or phrases that convey the most important aspects of what you are searching for. For example, if you were searching for information on the deforestation of gorilla habitat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you might type into Google: Gorilla Habitat Congo. "Gorilla," "Habitat," and "Congo" are examples of keywords. You should use keywords when searching library databases and other resources.

Keywords & Synonyms

Good keywords are essential to good research.

The more keywords you can think of, the more likely it will be that you will find what you are looking for.

To accomplish this, you can use synonyms to expand your research.

Advice on Synonyms:

  • Synonyms make your list of keywords longer
  • More keywords = better searching = more results

Not all of the results you get from synonym searching will be directly related to your topic. Look at the example to the right to get an idea of how synonyms can broaden your understanding of a given concept.  


Key Points:

  • Make lists of keywords for the main concepts of your research topic
  • Use single words or simple phrases
  • Be prepared that this may all change as you learn more information
  • Be flexible
  • Use a thesaurus to help generate synonyms

Finding Keywords for Your Topic

Watch the video below to see how one student creates a list of keywords for a given topic. Watch how she breaks down each keyword into related synonyms. What other synonyms could she use for her topic?
Developing Keywords
(University of Houston Libraries)